As you know, discussions with the employer broke off yesterday without an agreement being reached. We have applied for conciliation.
One of the roadblocks to an agreement at this point is the employer’s insistence that it will not put more money on the table unless retirees pay 50 per cent of their health premiums. The employer’s proposal affects those under Letter of Understanding #2 [page 51 of the collective agreement, section (b) – employees with less than 10 years of service with OPS Pension Plan]. The implication of the employer’s proposal is that members will be forced to pay 50 per cent of the cost of post-retirement benefit premiums. Benefits costs can increase at a rate of 10 to 15 per cent per year. Imagine being 85 years old and having to pay soaring benefit premiums when your pension only increases by 1 per cent!
The employer is also saying that, since the provincial government is trying to force Ontario Public Service employees to pay half their benefit premiums post-retirement, that former OPS employees at MPAC should pay half their benefit premiums post-retirement. However, this notion overlooks the fact that the government’s request is not a done deal. OPSEU is litigating this same issue for all OPS employees. During negotiations with MPAC, we indicated to the employer that we can’t accept the language based on their assumption that this is a done deal in the OPS when clearly it is not. We suggested to the employer to consider language that would make this enforceable only if OPSEU is not successful in the challenge. The employer did not want to consider this.
As you have seen from the Corporation’s message last night, the employer continues with the notion that we should be treated as employees of the Ontario Public Service and their wage offer reflects this. We will continue to reject this comparison. The relevant wage settlements that apply to us are the agreements reached by Ontario municipalities with their employees.
We also have not reached an agreement on accreditation and the employer still won’t consider grandfathering those members who can’t attain accreditation. They are also not agreeing with the union’s view that AIMA should be considered one of the recognized accrediting certificates.
In the meantime, we need all members to continue to put pressure on the employer. Strong action now could lead to progress.
You can demonstrate solidarity in many ways. This includes:
- Follow only your job specifications. Do not do work you are not responsible for.
- Take your full breaks and full lunch. Don’t skip them to get extra work done.
- Do not volunteer for overtime.
- Follow the directions from your manager and follow all policies. Don’t take shortcuts.
- Enforce the collective agreement. File grievances when the employer is violating the contract. Even though our contract has expired, our contract is still in force and remains that way until there is a new collective agreement.
There are many other great suggestions contained in the strike manual to help members show support. Be creative!
We know emotions can run high during this time. Rumours are often rampant. Please be confident that the union and your bargaining team will do everything possible to protect your rights and interests and negotiate a fair contract.
So, once again, thank you for your support. Keep up the amazing work. Stay strong! We are all in this together!
Chair, Bargaining Team